Wrestling with Lords reform

From: David Gray, Buttershaw Lane, Liversedge.

THE problem with your Editorial headed “Peer pressure” (Yorkshire Post, July 10) is that the argument is lost within it. You state that the regular interventions of Lord Lawson and Baroness Boothroyd regularly show up Parliament’s dearth of talent.

Surely if the House of Lords was reformed to be mainly, or wholly, elected the candidates would be from the same pool as compete for a place in the House of Commons. The incentive is in some ways greater with the proposed reward being 15 years for the pain of fighting one election against five years for each election.

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While we need democracy, we very much need experience and knowledge, which you have highlighted as possibly in short supply. We could have democracy by electing a college of regional representatives who would appoint the “peers”, but not themselves serve, and that would take away the probability that candidates with talent would not enter into an election process (often perceived as degrading), but who would accept invitation as currently.

From: T M Driffield, Bagby, Thirsk.

HUGE amounts of Parliamentary time are still likely to be wasted debating reform of the House of Lords. At a time of economic crisis just what we need is another talking shop for Westminster politicians.

We keep being told the need for this is to make our system truly democratic, this by a coalition for which nobody voted, unless I got the only ballot paper without a coalition candidate on it.

Because of it, we receive the worst of both worlds. To make the new lords truly democratic no entrant should have any political affiliations and should be removed immediately if they tried to instigate a party whip which is used to make party members vote against their better judgment but in line with party thinking.

From: Rex Poulton, Salisbury.

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THE House of Lords Reform Bill is illegal and has no foundation in law whatsoever. The coalition’s commitment to “bring forward proposals for a wholly or mainly elected upper chamber on the basis of proportional representation” is contrary to British Higher Law and the long-established and accepted constitutional arrangements of Parliament.

These were laid down in law hundreds of years ago specifically to protect the people from despotic Government as is probable were the Bill ever to succeed.

Better ways to faster travel

From: Jerry Marshall, chairman, AGAHST, (Action Groups Against High Speed Two), Coventry.

THE problem with the HS2 High Speed Rail economic case is that it is worse than the HS1 case (Yorkshire Post, July 6) and in fact has collapsed completely.

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The HS2 Benefit Cost Ratio has been cut four times so far and Margaret Hodge, chairman of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, has demanded that it is re-worked again, to take into account new figures for GDP and new estimates for the benefit of time saved from a Department for Transport report that had been suppressed.

Together with other recent Government information, this brings the HS2 benefit down to just 20p for every £1 invested.

The capacity case has also collapsed, it has a red/amber rating from the Major Projects Authority, and there are better alternatives that generate more than £5 of benefit for every £1 invested.

Yorkshire would be better served with electrification of the Midland Main Line, speed and capacity improvements on the East Coast Main Line and the Northern Hub. This will benefit more people and create more jobs more quickly, without ripping up the Yorkshire countryside.

Bemused by Lansley pledge

From: Howard A Knight, Lyons Street, Sheffield.

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I’M confused. Your report that Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has pledged to end the postcode lottery of social care (Yorkshire Post, July 10).

However, this is at the same time as he has pledged to institutionalise a postcode lottery for health care through his hugely expensive, top-down reorganisation of the NHS.

Can anyone explain?